A false report has circulated that the NBA issued a 30-day ultimatum to the state of North Carolina to repeal a new anti-LGBT law or lose the opportunity to host the 2017 NBA All-Star game in Charlotte.
The NBA issued a statement on the law on March 24 — but did not answer definitively whether or not Charlotte would lose the All-Star Game:
The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events. We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.
On Saturday, a false news story circulated from fake news site "abcnews.com.co" claiming that NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a news conference to announce the 2017 All-Star Game would be yanked from North Carolina unless the law was repealed. In the story, Silver was (falsely) quoted saying:
"With this new law in place, Charlotte currently does not have any anti-discrimination protection in place, something that would be vital for a large event such as the All-Star Game," Silver told reporters. "We are giving the state of North Carolina 30 days to repeal this law or they can expect the 2017 All-Star game to be held elsewhere. I want to make it clear that the NBA will not stand for this type of intolerance and hate."
The NBA quickly refuted the false news story by manually retweeting the locked NBA PR account from the main NBA account:
On Sunday, the same quote from Silver circulated again, this time attributed to the Associated Press.
Cleveland.com ran a story titled "NBA All-Star Game 2017 moving out of Charlotte unless North Carolina repeals 'bathroom law'" that has since been removed from the website (archived here).
The body of the story was AP copy, including the exact same quote found in the false abcnews.com.co report.
An AP spokesman told BuzzFeed News Monday that the AP had not published the erroneous report, and that Cleveland.com had inserted the quote into earlier reporting by the AP, but had not changed the byline.
On Monday afternoon, Cleveland.com Vice President of Content Chris Quinn published a story titled "We made a big mistake over the weekend, and we should not have."
In it, Quinn explains that the website first ran the story after seeing the abcnews.com.co erroneous report:
At cleveland.com, we saw that story, believed it to be real and decided to post the news on our website.
That was our first mistake. This kind of news rarely is reported by a single national news organization. We should have found other sources, and, finding none, questioned how ABC would be alone in reporting this story. If we had done the basics, we would have figured out pretty quickly that we were seeing an impostor ABC website.
Quinn's explanation also confirmed the AP statement that the erroneous reporting had been a hybrid:
Our second mistake was in how we reported the fake news. We combined it with an Associated Press story about the North Carolina controversy but left the AP byline on what we published. That made it appear that the Associated Press had been duped by the impostor website. That's not fair to the Associated Press, a valued partner for cleveland.com.
We have a pretty strict attribution policy at cleveland.com, so when we use facts reported by the Associated Press, we attribute those facts. When we get information from other sources, we attribute that as well.
We have apologized to the Associated Press, and we apologize to you. We owe you better than what we offered on this story.
The body of the erroneous Cleveland.com report closely matched that of a March AP report.
On Monday the false report circulated yet again when NBC Sports basketball blog Pro Basketball Talk reported on the fake quote from Silver and attributed it to the AP. The post, which is now deleted, linked to a report on NBC-2.com that appeared to aggregate from the erroneous Cleveland.com report. NBC-2.com has also removed the post from their website entirely.
Before the NBC Sports blog was deleted, it was updated with the headline "[UPDATE: Silver didn't say this] Adam Silver to North Carolina: Repeal law within 30 days or lose Charlotte All-Star game."
And on Monday, a CNN anchor repeated the fake story on air:
BuzzFeed News reached out to CNN for comment.
The NBA has not issued a statement on the 2017 All-Star Game since the initial statement in March.
On Friday, Bruce Springsteen announced he would not play a scheduled show in North Carolina unless HB2 is repealed. Major corporations have spoken out against the law, including PayPal, which scrapped plans to open a global operations center in North Carolina.